The Telegraph
Thursday , April 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chennai firm to train farmers

Guwahati, April 24: A Chennai-based tractor and farm equipment maker will train farmers in the Northeast on cultivation practices and mechanisation to improve agricultural productivity in the region.

Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd (Tafe), a pioneer in farm mechanisation and known for its lab-to-farm initiatives, will begin training sessions every month for ten farmers from May. “We have already handed over the detailed project reports to the DoNER states in this regard and expect to initiate the training from the third week of May. The governments have been asked to select the best farmers for the training sessions that will dwell on cropping patterns and use of relevant equipment that maximise yield per hectare,” T.R. Kesavan, chief operating officer (product strategy and corporate relations), told this correspondent here today.

Experts from Tafe’s research centre, J. Farm, and a team from the products division will conduct the training, which will primarily be field-based. Agricultural productivity in the Northeast is lower than in the other states of the country, primarily because of the low levels of mechanisation and lack of scientific knowledge about the cropping patterns. Arunachal Pradesh has the lowest level of mechanisation per hectare (0.17 kW per hectare) against a national average of 1.46 kW per hectare. Punjab has the highest farm mechanisation level at 3.5 kW per hectare.

“This initiative is a part of our corporate social responsibility. Apart from training, which will be free of cost, we seek to offer relevant and cost-effective mechanisation solutions to the farmers. For example, we will promote use of four-wheel drive tractors and smaller equipment that are relevant to the Northeast. Adherence to correct cropping patterns helps save on seeds, fertilisers and labour. The products also have to be transported and stored properly so that the farmers get good prices,” Kesavan said.

The major crops in the Northeast comprise field crops such as rice, maize, wheat, rapeseed and mustard, potato, jute, fruits and vegetables, rubber and tea. The agricultural production system is characterised by low-cropping intensity, subsistence level and mono cropping. The region produces only 1.5 per cent of the country’s total food grain production.

Northeast will be a focus area for Tafe in the next five years. “Our endeavour will be to understand specific needs and come up with more products customised for the Northeast. Greater farm productivity will also create more employment avenues in the rural areas,” he added.

We will co-ordinate with the departments of agriculture and research institutes in the region and take it from there,” he added.